Graduate Student Presentation Prize – 2022

Miriam Mabrouk (University of Alberta) wins the 2022 CAPS Graduate Student Presentation Prize for the paper “‘The Moment is a Wound’: Perpetual Temporality of War and Occupation in Sinan Antoon’s The Book of Collateral Damage.

Congratulations to Miriam Mabrouk, PhD Candidate in English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, for winning this year’s Graduate Student Presentation Prize. Congratulations also to the runners-up on on this year’s panel, Jumoke Verissimo (University of Alberta), Jonathan Nash (University of Victoria), and Thomas Hanson (Brock University). All panelists delivered compelling and original papers, which collectively made for one of the highlights of this year’s conference.

For more details, please see the judges’ comments below.

The Graduate Student Prize for the 2022 conference of CACLALS/CAPS goes to Miriam Mabrouk for her paper, “‘The Moment is a Wound’: Perpetual Temporality of War and Occupation in Sinan Antoon’s The Book of Collateral Damage”. The Adjudication Committee takes this opportunity to commend the papers by the other panellists: in order of presentation, Jumoke Verissimo, Jonathan Nash, and Thomas Hanson. We would also like to note the exemplary quality of collegial spirit and support fostered by all members of the Graduate Student Prize Panel. All four presenters have made visible to us Committee Members and the audience the operation of decolonizing praxis in intellectual and institutional life. For that, we thank them.

The Adjudication Committee’s work this year was very challenging, deciding on one paper out of four that each showed skilful analytical and theoretical orientations to a range of texts and contexts. All presentations were well argued, clearly focused, and appropriately paced. In diverse ways, moreover, all papers pointed to urgent interventions against deployments of reductive “taxonomies” (to borrow a term from one of our presentations) to fix person and place, type and time. Our presenters capably responded to many post-presentation questions posed. And, the Committee agreed that it was easy to imagine all four papers being developed for publication.

Miriam’s work was felt by all members of the committee to be excellent, satisfying holistically the range of criteria used to select the winning paper. The theoretical foundations presented were very well-formed, the textual analysis articulated original insights into generative writing, narration, and cataloguing-through-colloquy that interrupt the temporal and generic enclosures within which the subject-object of war and terror are (carcerally) held. In her polished delivery, effective use of learning aids as clarifying tools, and ready ability to field questions, Miriam showed her considerable abilities. Her work combined granular textual readings with a broad-level engagement concerning how the novel-format may enable proliferating representations of moments-in-moments.  

In the same spirit of collegiality shown by our panellists, we also want to highlight the notable contributions made by Miriam’s fellow presenters on the Graduate Student Prize Panel.

Jumoke’s paper pursued fascinating lines of inquiry. The Adjudication Committee felt that the theoretical framing of the project was compelling, and we eagerly look forward to future iterations of her work as it continues to shape sustained readings of her chosen primary text/s. We felt that her synthesis of ubuntu with literary representations of war, trauma and hate/ “negative emotions” opens new vistas for her own research as well as those of future scholars. The Adjudication Committee also noted how capably Jumoke engaged with questions, both from the audience and from her fellow panellists, in the Q & A session, enabling her to provide further insights into her reading of Heroes.

Jonathan’s excellent paper presented an original approach to the representation of refugee life, affirming temporal dynamism over emplaced stasis. The linkage between textual form and temporal dynamics was felt to be immediately interesting, especially in the ways Jonathan’s reading problematized received understandings of temporal motion and in his analysis of generative time in the formal structure of graphic text in Kate Evans’ work. The Adjudication Committee also commented on Jonathan’s well-paced delivery and his skilful close reading of presentation slides. The selection of visual images he included in them concretized, and amplified, his argument about the world-making capacities of the refugees in the face of conditions often understood, in biopolitical readings, to render them disposable and perpetually out of place/in limbo.

Thomas’s paper and theoretical insights are remarkable, the work of a scholar of considerable promise. His paper showed top-notch analytical skills and a well-developed capacity for synthesis. The reparative model out of which he has developed nuanced readings successfully indicates ways to move beyond oversimplified binaries and absolute enclosures of oppositional thinking to a broader critique by means of which the “alternative” may be re-imagined. Thomas’ reading skills are both strong and subtle, and his work will likely find a ready and appreciative audience.

Once more, we extend congratulations to all our panellists, and to Miriam for her significant contribution to the conference.